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2016 Syrah, Upslope
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY
One of the most exciting tasks each year is tasting through all of the reserve red wine barrels and creating Upslope, the best Syrah from the vintage. We look for intensity, concentration, balance, complexity, aging potential and that mysterious “wow” factor. The 2016 Upslope is complex and densely structured. Aromatics of boysenberry, blackberry jam, licorice and violet frame this powerful wine. Dark berries persist on the palate, with crushed rock, and a long, tannic finish. This wine should be cellared 5-7 years past the vintage before hitting its stride, and can easily be kept for another 10-15.
Wine Advocate 94+ Points ~ The deep ruby-purple colored 2016 Syrah Upslope contains 2% Viognier and is scented of white pepper and blueberry, olive, salami, bacon fat, baked blackberries and black cherries with blue fruit preserves and lovely floral accents. Full-bodied, luscious and savory in the mouth, it has firm, chewy tannins and good freshness to counter, finishing long. This is a beast and is still showing some new oak, but it has the fruit to soak it up. So, give this plenty more time in bottle. Drink date 2022-2040. — Erin Brooks
Vinous 95 Points ~ The 2016 Syrah Upslope is dense, powerful and super-concentrated, not to mention incredibly delicious. This six-barrel blend from Bien Nacido, Larner and Kimsey has so much to offer. Readers should expect a heady, sumptuous style. Even with all of its intensity and muscle, the 2016 remains beautifully proportioned and balanced. Drink 2021-2031. — Antonio Galloni
Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points ~ The flagship of the estate is the 2016 Syrah Upslope, which checks in as 98% Syrah and 2% Viognier from a mix of Bien Nacido, Larner, and Kimsey Vineyards. Fermented with 70% stems and aged 22 months in 50% new French oak, it offers a brilliant bouquet of spiced plums, blackberries, salted meat, tapenade, and peppery herbs. Rich, medium to full-bodied, and concentrated, with building tannins, it's another flawlessly balanced, elegant, layered Syrah that stays focused and tight on the palate, yet still offers another dimension compared to the other single vineyard releases. Do your best to hide bottles for 3-4 years and it's going to cruise over the following decade. Maturity 2022-2032. — Jeb Dunnuck
Jeb Dunnuck 96 Points ~ The flagship is the 2015 Syrah Upslope and in 2015 it includes 2% Viognier and is from a mix of Bien Nacido, Larner, and Thompson vineyards. Its inky ruby/purple color is followed by a beautiful, ethereal, yet full-bodied Syrah that has oodles of blackberry, cassis, bacon fat, lavender, violets, and peppery herbs. Deep, concentrated, yet seamless and weightless, it's a sensational Syrah, and one of the finest version of this cuvée to date. Maturity 2018-2033. — Jeb Dunnuck
Vinous 93 Points ~ The 2015 Syrah Upslope, a blend of the best barrels in the cellar, packs a serious punch. Bold, racy and exuberant, the 2015 will prove nearly impossible to resist upon release. The 2015 is composed of four barrels of Bien Nacido, two of Larner and one of Thompson. As good as the wine is, and it is outstanding, I am not sure it is meaningfully different from the vineyard designates. That said, the Upslope is super appealing just the same. The 2015 was fermented with around 28% whole clusters and drops of Viognier. I am not sure the wine needs the 40%+ new oak, but the wood works well here. Drink 2018-2025. — Antonio Galloni
Wine Enthusiast 94 Points Cellar Selection ~ Bright and snappy violet aromas lead into black peppers and charred blackberry on the elegant nose of this bottling, created from the winery's best-barrels released each vintage. The palate is taut and grippy with firm tannins and perfectly primed acid, which will carry the dried herb and pepper flavors into the deep future. Drink 2020–2030. — Matt Kettmann
Wine Spectator 91 Points ~ Dense in structure and slightly brooding, with potent blackberry, stony mineral and smoked pepper flavors that build toward broad-shouldered tannins. Drink now through 2024. 150 cases made. — Tim Fish
Jeb Dunnuck 95 Points ~ The 147-case 2014 Syrah Upslope is straight up gorgeous. Classy, impeccably balanced, pure and layered, with terrific notes of blackberries, currants, pepper, leather and graphite, it hits the palate with medium to full-bodied richness, no hard edges, fine tannin and a great, great finish. It's terrific wine. As always, this cuvée is a cellar selection of top barrels and in 2014 it came from Bien Nacido and Thompson Vineyards, saw 30% whole clusters and 22 months in 50% new French oak. — Jeb Dunnuck
Vinous 93+ Points ~ A rich, sumptuous wine, the 2014 Syrah Upslope captures all of the intensity of the vintage in its super-concentrated, dark-toned fruit. The huge tannins are going to need time to soften, but there is plenty to look forward to once that happens. Bold and unctuous, the Upslope is not a shy wine, but it is loaded with personality and character. Drinking window 2018-2024. — Antonio Galloni
Wine Enthusiast 92 Points ~ Pencil shaving aromas kick off this winery's top-shelf bottling, and then come hints of char, delicate but strong purple flowers and a core of blueberry on the nose. There is a tarry grip to the palate, where flavors of charred boysenberry, lilac and burnt caramel are very clean and elegant. — Matt Kettmann